MTSU allows students to opt in to pass-fail grading amid COVID-19
April 4, 2020
By Adam Tamburin, Murfreesboro Daily News Journal
Middle Tennessee State University is joining the chorus of colleges nationwide that are allowing students grappling with the fall-out of the coronavirus pandemic to opt in to pass-fail grading for the spring semester. University President Sidney McPhee announced the move Saturday, saying it came "after consultation with and approval by faculty representatives." McPhee also said all in-person summer courses were canceled. Colleges nationwide canceled in-person classes and sent students home due to the spread of COVID-19. Several have pursued pass-fail grading or similar options to allow flexibility for students are who are struggling with lost income, scarce food, spotty internet access and limited housing options due to the crisis. MTSU senior Kobe Hermann, 21, said the flexibility of pass-fail would be a boon as he finished out a semester of classes that came with unexpected speed bumps. Hermann said his routine was ripped away as classes and campus life shut down. Adjusting to a a different pace of recorded lectures and online programs has been a challenge. "It's been a struggle," he said in a phone inter. "I'm pretty sure it's been a struggle for everybody." Hermann is still getting paid through his campus job, which he can do from his off-campus apartment in Murfreesboro. But he said some of his classmates are struggling to secure housing and money in the midst of a pandemic that has shuttered many businesses. "Everybody's kind of in a different place with this," he said. Having the option to switch to pass-fail can relieve some pressure for students who suddenly have more pressing concerns. "I do think it's really great that they're giving the option," he said. "It's something that can adapt to everybody if needed." The University of Tennessee-Knoxville announced last month students could opt in to a pass-fail grading scale for most undergraduate and some graduate classes. Haylee Maniaci, a fourth-year psychology student at UT, said she was "overwhelmed" when she first learned classes were shifting online. She lives alone in Knoxville and is working more not just because her employers need her, but also because she needs the income. School is the last thing on her mind. "There are just too many other stressors going on in the world right now," Maniaci said. "I had two exams yesterday, which I couldn't focus on because I was at work all day trying to make enough money to keep (the restaurant) open and stay employed." The coronavirus is a pandemic that continues to impact life in Tennessee in a variety of ways. The USA Today Network newsrooms in Tennessee are uniquely positioned to cover this crisis. We're providing this critical information for free. To support our mission, please consider a subscription. For more information on COVID-19, please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus. Allie Clouse of the Knoxville News Sentinel and USA Today contributed to this report Reach Adam Tamburin at 615-726-5986 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @tamburintweets.